Little Mermaid remake is an hour longer than the original — so what did Disney add?

Disney’s new live action The little Mermaid, which hits theaters in May, is two hours and 15 minutes – almost an hour longer than the original. While some Disney remakes are just shot-for-shot do-overs of the animated films, others take more creative liberties and use the original films as a springboard more than anything else. It’s a sliding scale of The lionking (2019), which was unwaveringly faithful, save for a 20-minute sequence where a dung beetle pushed a ball of poop, to Mulan (2020) which only really kept the main character’s name and little else.

For the most part, the trailers are in front The little Mermaid looks like it’s getting closer The lionking end of the spectrum, with shots that highlight the most iconic moments from the original film. But there is that extra hour to consider. What could that extra hour in the deep blue sea mean?

As a Polygon Disney expert (and direct-to-home video connoisseur), I’m here to theorize about what could potentially fill this time.

Ariel’s sisters look for her – and do more generally

Image: Disney

The little Mermaid has six other female characters, all with established relationships with each other, who barely get any screen time in the original. Giving them something to do – as well as turning them into decent and concerned sisters – would be the most obvious way to fill the time. In Hans Christian Andersen’s original story, where the mermaids all get one chance to leave the house and go to the surface, they each get a little moment of what they did during that time. In addition, the direct-to-home video prequel, Ariel’s beginninggave all the sisters more personality and gave more substance to their dynamics.

Please note, Ariel’s sisters in this new movie are not exact one-on-one versions of their animated counterparts. The original sisters are named Attina, Alana, Adella, Arista, Aquata and Andrina, but the new ones are Perla (played by Lorena Andrea), Karina (Kajsa Mohammar), Caspia (Nathalie Sorrell), Mala (Karolina Conchet), Tamika (Sienna King ) and Indira (Simone Ashley).

More about Ariel’s late mother

In Ariel’s beginning, we see the tragic moment when Ariel’s mother Athena dies in a collision with a pirate ship. Integrating this scene into the beginning of the movie is a whole live-action Disney movie thing to do (see Cruella’s mother killed by dalmatians). Of course, if the answer to “Does daddy Triton have a sprawling family of multiracial daughters because he’s had many different multi-baby mamas?” if yes, then we could have a whole montage of it dead Disney moms.

The fraught backstory of Ursula and Triton

We don’t get much of the story of sea witch Ursula in the original, except that she just likes to make fun of people. However, she does mention that she once lived in Atlantica and knew Triton. In the Broadway musical, she is actually King Triton’s sister who got equal parts of the kingdom with him when their father died. However, she was greedy and Triton banished her. This could be canon in the new movie, or we could see more of Ursula’s time in court and how she turned to the dark side.

Or we can see her direct-to-home video sister morgana! Who knows!

The Footloose plot from Ariel’s Beginning

The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning - Sebastian and a Turtle and a Manta Ray

Image: Disney

The plot of the direct-to-video Little Mermaid prequel involves Daddy Triton banning all music from the undersea kingdom because he is sad that his wife has died. So Ariel and her rebellious sisters sneak into clubs to make music and dance. That’s an awful lot of backstory to stuff into the movie (and it also makes less and less sense the more you think about it, given how much everyone sings diagenetically in Atlantica), but hey! It’s just over an hour long in direct-to-home video form, so the remake team could have easily squeezed it into the new movie.

Flounder’s bad past

In the prequel, Flounder was a rebel who partied all night and disregarded the law – something that really undercuts his cowardly personality in the actual film! But Flounder contains heaps and we could really dive into the psyche of Ariel’s best fish friend.

New songs!

This is actually confirmed – you don’t invite Lin-Manuel Miranda to make your music if you don’t want new music! Alan Menken, the composer behind the original and also the live-action, already spoke with Vanity purse about some of the new songs coming to the movie. They include an Eric solo, a new Ariel song and Also a Scuttle song because everyone was clamoring for it. Why don’t you give the seagull a song? Unfortunately for the Daddy Triton fans out there, his song did not but maybe one day in a Disney Plus bonus scene.

Sebastian’s tragic backstory, told in the form of a rap

After all, he’s played by Daveed Diggs, and his Hamilton castmate is in charge of the new music. This may not be a completely new song, but I wouldn’t pass it up to them to include a rap part in “Under the Sea” for Sebastian to dig into around the time he was almost a crab cake.

Eric takes on a personality

Prince Eric holds Ariel, a red-haired mermaid, after she tries to walk for the first time

Image: Disney

God knows he needs one. The boy is beautiful and he loves his dog, but what more could he want? What are his dreams? Will they become a tortured sole survivor of a shipwreck or will they lean into that golden retriever himbo energy? He’s a beautiful blank canvas that the movie can finally paint on.

More details about Eric’s kingdom

Eric’s mother is a real character in the new live-action version. Her name is Queen Selina and she is played by Noma Dumezweni. Where’s his father? Where is this kingdom anyway? I think we may or may not find out.

Ariel’s designated Disney Live-Action STEM hobby

Yes, she’s an aspiring anthropologist interested in human culture, but is that really cool and daring enough for a Disney live-action heroine? After all, the bookish Belle had to be an inventor for her live-action movie! Disney, like many universities and school programs, has apparently decided that the humanities are not worth funding. Perhaps Ariel is also really passionate about environmental wellness and sustainable energy through whosits and whatsits. We’ll find out.

Eric’s butler briefly mentions his man

This man won’t really make an appearance until the end of the credits, where he hugs Grimsby in a split second that could easily be edited for the international release. His name will also be very gender neutral, so when Grimsby talks about him, a certain portion of parents don’t have to explain anything to their children.

A 20 minute submarine tour that won’t be a fraction as cool as Avatar: the way of the water

This isn’t so much a dig about how dark and dingy it is The little Mermaid’s underwater scenes look and more about how nothing underwater will ever look as cool as Avatar: the way of the water.

The chef of Les Poissons is actually the B villain and a secret mermaid hunter

Halfway through the movie, he teams up with Ursula and she promises to make him king or something if he kills Ariel. While Ariel fights Ursula, Eric gets into a less than cool fight with the Les Poissons chief.

Exploring the double standard of why it’s OK for Scuttle to eat fish, but the shark is a bad guy because he just wants some lunch

I just have questions!